Trapped and Duped

A few years ago, I was trapped and duped. It pained me so much because I never anticipated it. In retrospect, I realized that I had the opportunity to handle the issue in a sensitive way such that it would not have caused me hurt feelings. I wish I had dealt with the issue in a more sensitive way. You can agree with me that it hurts to be duped. I was so hurt that I cried for days (I don’t get water-eyed so easily). We have all been victims of some tricks and snares. It is one thing to face traps, intrigues, manipulations and machinations. How we deal with them is quite another thing.

The kind of trapping and duping I am attempting to throw light on is one that a man or woman orchestrates and inflicts on himself or herself. Charles Spurgeon has observed that, “Beware of no man more than yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.” More often than not, we have been entrapped in self-inflicted pain usually due to indiscretion, or failure to exercise self-control.

When dealing with such a crucial issue, it is wise to consider what the all-knowing God has to say. In the Bible, James writes about a temptation that comes from within us:

When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed (James 1:13,14 NIV).

Putting the reference in to context (verses 12-18), we realize that even though James writes about a temptation that comes from within us, he assures the reader in verse 12 about the benefit of endurance. In verses 13-18, he gives an eye-opener on the basis of enticement. Let us see an example of how temptation can occur in our finances. For instance, we Americans buy so much so that we spend about twelve billion dollars on storage facilities a year. It has been observed that the self-storage business supersedes the music industry.

When we bow to the inner pressure to buy more and more stuff, it is a proof that materialism, consumption, acquisition, and hoarding appeal to us. When we deliberately fail to bow down to the pressure of impulsive buying, it implies that materialism no more appeals to us. The More the pressure on us to selfishly lavish our financial resources on ourselves, the more we should think that we need to generously direct part our resources towards the cause of caring for the welfare and satisfaction of the needy.

God gives us everything that we have in this world. He expects us to manifest faithful stewardship in the way we use those resources. We are not inward-looking hoarders, but outward-looking distributors, treating people with warmth and immense generosity. God’s ardent wish is to have His way in our lives. He wants to influence us in “so simple a thing as how we use a dime.” Let us allow Him to have His way in our lives, because His will is always beneficial.

We may not necessarily be financial experts to come to terms with the fact that, one of the greatest ways to financial prosperity is withholding present purchases. Hence, we are able to save and invest. Thus, we become beneficiaries of the abundance that God, our Father has stored for us. He is faithful, but we have to do our own part.

God wants us to align our spending patterns with His infallible word. Failing to heed God’s counsel is like wandering away from His protection, and as we wander away the devil uses his wiles to enable us to make our own gallows in which we become trapped. When materialism (very strong want to own things) becomes one’s weakness; it becomes one’s insecurity – a thumbscrew that one unconsciously uses to turn to one’s disadvantage.

Since humankind by nature is insatiable, the wish to always buy stuff and the grace to resist usually looks like a David and Goliath confrontation wherein we prevail when we resist that temptation by God’s grace. Surely, there is something you and I need to put right with respect to our spending. Even though this article explores the area of our finances, the proven principles of God’s Word are applicable to every area that our self-control is tested. Let us imagine how the world would become a better place when we all inculcate the principle of being compassionate by saving some of our hard-earned financial resources and use it to help the needy!

Since we have a better understanding about the negative consequences of materialism, by God’s help we can prepare a defense against consumerism so that we will not be trapped and duped.

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Billy Graham: Relationship With God, Roles and Results

English: Evangelist Billy Graham, at a Crusade...

English: Evangelist Billy Graham, at a Crusade in Cleveland Ohio, on June 11, 1994. This was the first time the Billy Graham Crusade had tried a Youth Night, and there were about 85,000 that attended the concert, at Cleveland Stadium, on the shores of Lake Erie. Photo Paul M. Walsh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this article, I would do a brief description of the leadership actions of Billy Graham with reference to his relationship with God, roles, responsibilities and the results of his ministry.

Conversion and relationship with God

Billy Graham explains in his autobiography, Just as I Am, that sometime around his sixteenth birthday, after the preaching of Dr. Ham he became “deeply convicted about (his) sinfulness and rebellion.” In response to Dr. Ham’s altar call, Billy Graham went to the front. He writes that a family friend called J.D. Prevatt helped him understand what he needed to do to become a genuine Christian. He writes that after his salvation he continued in his salesmanship job alongside evangelism sandwiched with prayer. His relationship with God was the hub around which his life and ministry evolved.

Leadership and Roles

He reveals that on a certain night in 1983 he had his purpose and objective in life set – being a preacher of the Gospel, even though he lacked specificity about how and when!
After his resignation from the position of president at Northwestern College, he started ‘full-time’ evangelism. He draws the attention of readers to the establishment of a few principles of action that became the pattern throughout his ministry. This resolution was made in lieu of prayer, financial accountability, morality, cooperation with local churches, and generally carrying out ministry activities with integrity. In consequence of that resolution, Billy Graham made up his mind not to act himself familiar with the opposite sex, such as meeting or eating alone with a woman other than his wife.

Marshall Shelley recently published Ten Leadership Secrets From Billy Graham at the website of the Christianity Today Magazine (http: // http://www.christianitytoday.com). That article is replete with time-tested leadership principles.
The principles highlighted include,

1. Leadership is Forged in a Furnace
2. The Spirit of Team building Empowers and Energizes
3. Never Underestimate a “Small Temptation.”
4. Laser is on the Mission
5. Embrace the Challenge of Criticism
6. Recognize Fear as a Catalyst for Courage
7. Turn unthinkable Failure into Gold
8. Emphasize the Common Ground
9. Inspire other Leaders
10. Leverage weakness

In Robert E. Coleman’s book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, Billy Graham writes the foreword and reminds the readership about “The Priority to reach out in love to a confused and dying world with the good news of God’s forgiveness and peace and hope through Jesus Christ.”
Speaking to a one-time leader of Russia, Mr. Ponomarev, Billy Graham in an attempt to bring this leader to a relationship with God, witnessed saying, “ I have peace with God in my heart. If I die, I know I’m going to Heaven. God has given me the ability to love, to be more tolerant, to be more understanding, and to work toward peace in our world.”

Monumental impact

It is reported that 3.2 million people have responded to the invitation at Billy Graham Crusades to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. As of 2008, Graham’s estimated lifetime audience including radio and television broadcasts topped 2.2 billion. He operates a variety of media and publishing outlets.

Billy Graham has been referred to as a spiritual ambassador to political leaders. He is a leader who believes in social justice; during the civil rights movement, he began to support integrated seating for his revivals and crusades. In 1957 he invited Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to preach jointly at a huge revival in New York City.
Dr. Graham has appeared on Gallup’s list of most admired men and women 55 times, more than any other individual in the world.

Acknowledging the enormity of the results of his ministry on one hand, and the need to give God all the glory by the same token; Evangelist Billy Graham sums it up in the preface of his autobiography by succinctly expressing, “ Most of all if anything has been accomplished through my life, it has been solely God’s doing, not mine, and He-not I-must get the credit.”

Charles Spurgeon: Relationship With God, Roles and Results

This set of images was gathered by User:Dcoetz...

This set of images was gathered by User:Dcoetzee from the National Portrait Gallery, London website using a special tool. All images in this batch have been evaluated manually for evidence that the artist probably died before 1939, or that the work is anonymous or pseudonymous and was probably published before 1923. Author floruit in 1846, presumed dead by 1923. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Surrey music hall, Charles Spurgeon preaching.

Surrey music hall, Charles Spurgeon preaching. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will briefly describe the leadership actions of Charles Haddon Spurgeon with reference to his relationship with God, roles, responsibilities and results.

Genuine Conversion

As a nineteenth century preacher, Spurgeon (1834-1892) experienced conversion at the age of sixteen. Genuine conversion is a commonality that marks the lives of all great souls that ever lived to God’s glory. In the biographical book, Charles Spurgeon: The Boy Preacher of the Fens, written by Kathy Triggs, it is explained that he was saved on Sunday, January 6, 1850. On that day he stumbled in to a church where a non-clergy member seized the preaching opportunity because of the pastor was prevented from coming to church due to a snowstorm. Recounting that experience, Kathy Triggs writes, “In that instant Charles felt as if the darkness rolled away and he saw the sun. He looked to Christ and felt himself saved.”

There and then, Spurgeon’s life-long relationship with God started. In a few months, Spurgeon was baptized. He continued desiring the sincere milk of the word of God. The knowledge of God’s Word set him on fire for God and for souls, which set the stage for his fame as “The Boy Preacher of the Fens.”

In her introductory comments about Spurgeon, Kathy Triggs expresses:

There is an old saying, ‘The heart makes the theologian,’ and Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s theology certainly came from his heart. He was convinced of God’s love for him, and of God’s desire to save all who  would come to him. This was Spurgeon’s message throughout his life.

At the Bible Bulletin Board Website (http://www.biblebb.com) I found one of Spurgeon’s many articles. Drawing from his experiential intimate relationship with God, he testifies, “I know there is a comfort in the faith of Christ’s imputed righteousness which no other doctrine can yield. There is something that a man can sleep on and wake on, can live on and die on, in the firm conviction that he is received by God as though the deeds of Christ were his deeds, and the righteousness of Christ his righteousness.”

Spurgeon was of the firm conviction that maintaining intimate relationship with the Father through prayer was imperative. In his book, Lectures to my Students, Spurgeon writes, “Habitual communication with God must be maintained.”

Roles, Responsibilities and Results

Springing from his profound love for God, and his fiery heart for souls, Spurgeon observes in Lectures to my Students that, “ I can only weep and agonize for souls in my own renewed nature, therefore must I watchfully maintain the tenderness, which was in Christ Jesus.”  Like the weeping prophet, Jeremiah, that ‘tenderness’ was an integral part of Spurgeon’s preaching ministry. No wonder he preached with such burden that he, more often than not, choked with tears like Jesus weeps over Jerusalem (Matthew 23). He implores his students by saying, “Let the infinite Jehovah be served with our best.” His personal testimony was, “ I follow a call to which God has manifestly set his seal.”

In this reflection on Charles Spurgeon’s leadership actions, I see him as God’s servant who effectively led and systematically managed a mega-church. Above all, he was a preacher who communicated the Gospel message by vocalization and printed matter, thereby reaching thousands who met God!

Since that encounter in 1850 Spurgeon acted out the true meaning of his faith until his death in 1892. Kathy Triggs adds credence to Spurgeon’s leadership as she explains that, “Spurgeon had genius for organization and for choosing the right people to whom he could delegate responsibility.”